Making Friends for Grown-Ups: Creating Community

peasants_breaking_breadBy Johanna Hatch

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.

-Dorothy Day

How do you make friends when you’re a grown-up? Once my spouse Evan and I decided to move to Madison, WI, this was the question that weighed most heavily on my mind. Years out of college, leaving grad school, and starting a job where I was the only employee of the organization left me without the options for making new friends that I had used in the past.

Upon our arrival, I tried meeting people. I signed up for yoga lessons and started visiting churches. Naturally shy and introverted, I managed to make it through the eight week yoga session without making a peep. Church was no easier for me to open up in, exacerbated by the fact that there weren’t many people like me in the pews –young adults without kids. Where were my people?

I prayed, and I waited, and through what could be chance or divine design, I made a connection with a friend-of-a-friend who was also new in town. Over coffee and smoothies, we made a plan to try to start a small faith sharing group, based on a model created by Call to Action. Both being alums of successful groups in Washington, DC and Chicago, we were sure it would be a hit in Madison. And maybe we’d make some friends in the process.

But how to you meet these mythical people, who you’ll break bread share your faith journey with, especially when groups affiliated with Call to Action aren’t allowed inside the church doors? You find them on Craig’s List, through people you run into at a conference. And then you meet, you read books on spirituality, eat chili and nachos and cookies, and suddenly you’re taking road trips and throwing joint birthday parties. With commitment and creativity, you’ve created a real community.

It’s been almost a year since I moved to Madison, and as I sat down with my faith sharing group to celebrate a Holy Thursday Seder, I was awed by the ease with which we’ve come to share this time in our lives –cooking together, drinking wine, praying, laughing, making mistakes. Community can be messy and imperfect, and always takes hard work to maintain. But in the end, it’s the only solution that makes any sense to me.


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